Madhosh Balhami was sitting in his courtyard feeding his two cows grass one afternoon in March 2018, when he heard the sound of gunshots at a distance. A short time later, three men came running past him, towards a leafy, tree-lined path descending on his left. As soon as they took a few steps down the stairs, they abruptly turned and came running back, straight into Balhami’s brick-and-stone house in Balhama, a saffron-growing village on the outskirts of Srinagar.
He knew at that moment that his house was marked.
Balhami is the pen name of Ghullam Mohammad, a 52-year-old saffron farmer and poet. The three men who had run in were members of Ghazwat-ul-Hind, a new militant group led by Zakir Musa that claims links to Al Qaeda and supports the Islamic State. Hours after the militants ran into his house on 15 March, Indian security forces set his house on fire.
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